Jan 15, 2009

Dog Soldiers

Unfortunately for the horror fan, a quality werewolf film is hard to come by. The Howling is still an okay film that has obviously aged ungracefully over time. John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London is not a bad film either but is far from a serious werewolf film. It is a shame that horror “directors” aren’t obsessed with directing films about lycanthropes as they are with lame zombie flicks. The directly-to-video werewolf film Dog Soldiers is proof that you don’t need a lot of artistic talent and money to make a quality film about bloodthirsty furry beasts.

Dog Soldiers is a film set in the highlands of Scotland (although actually filmed in Luxembourg). The rural area in the film would alone scare most city dwellers as the wild is obviously dominant over man in Dog Soldiers. The film follows six British soldiers that have been dropped off in the highlands of Scotland. These chaps, to their horror, find the remains of a special forces unit. The only member left of this savagely slaughtered unit is a weirdo that goes by the name of Captain Ryan.

A blond beast named Cooper is in charge of the “dog soldiers.” He had a prior problem with the mysterious and arrogant Captain Ryan. Cooper seems to love dogs and refused to shoot one on the request of Captain Ryan as part of special forces training. Cooper makes it clear early in the film that he only fights those that desire to be punished. Captain Ryan, on the other hand, has a sort of sadistic persona that repulses Cooper. The hate between these natural enemies reaches an intense climax during the conclusion of Dog Soldiers.

When I first started watching Dog Soldiers, I expected your typical cheap and forgettable horror film. The production values seemed low and the artistry nonexistent. As the film progressed, I found Dog Soldiers to be possibly the most well paced and action packed (in a good way) werewolf film that I have ever seen. Dog Soldiers also features a few twists and turns successfully making the film even more entertaining. The lead protagonist of the film Cooper is a real man that you can admire unlike most heroes found in your typical contemporary American horror or action film.

The lycanthropes featured in Dog Soldiers are tall and lanky man beasts worthy of being in a werewolf film. These werewolves don’t look like the universal wolfman but more like wolves of gigantic proportions. The fact these werewolves are less human than your typical werewolf only makes them more horrifying. I must admit that I approved very much so when the soldiers started killing these man beasts. The soldiers that fight these werewolves seem to have a homoerotic bond of comradeship. Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall would also visit a “girl power” lesbian theme in his later film The Descent.

-Ty E


Anonymous said...

I was also surprised by dog soldiers. It became a favorite of mine and I have watched it many times now over the years.

Its plot is very similar to the film 'Southern Comfort'. But instead of werewolves vs soldiers its rednecks vs soldiers.

Check it out.

thebonebreaker said...

Great Review for a Great Film TyE!

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I`d been led to beleive that this was a good film but unfortunately it turned out to be yet another pile of british made "DOG"-shit.

JESCIE said...